Romney, the NDAA, War, and Rumors of War

I just discovered 3 videos that explain in crystal clear terms why I cannot in any way support Mitt Romney’s candidacy. What I like about these videos is that they are not emotionally charged and don’t contain any name calling. They are simply a straightforward presentation of the facts of the matter and the principles behind them. They are short, informative, and rather pleasant (at least, I think so).

I am going to ask that no one comment on this article unless and until they have watched all three of these videos. I ask this because I do not want to engage in arguments or discussions until we’re all on the same page (not that we agree, but that we’ve at least arrived at the same page in the metaphorical book).

Here they are:

PART 1

PART 2

PART 3

12 thoughts on “Romney, the NDAA, War, and Rumors of War

  1. Sorry, I can’t watch 20 minutes of videos in order to express an opinion (but I find it ironic the video creators themselves don’t hold you to the same standard… that is they show you a portion of a bill within a flash of time you can’t possibly read and then launch into their opinion of it, without first arming you with the facts of what it is they are opining about). But I will express an opinion on the portions I watched. In the first minute of the video, where it zoom/scrolled around some text of the law which said one thing, while voice over said a whole different thing entirely (around 50 seconds).

    Pausing it…Section b of the law, as shown in the video says it specifically is to cover people who aided in the Sept.11 attacks and who are part of AQ, Taliban, or it’s partners.

    It seems to suggest to me a prognosis for dealing with people who are part of AQ, etc. not people who are merely suspected or accused of being Taliban, etc. There is a big difference, in my mind, of codifying, “here is how the law will handle these specific instances of members who are a part of these organizations” and claiming the law says, “we can accuse anyone of being a part of these organizations and treat them that way.”

    In the worst case, to have the presumed level of treatment that throws Habeas Corpus out the window, as the video alleges, then first a person would have to be a proven member of those groups. The law as I saw, in the 2-3 second glimpse of it (admittedly I had to pause it) said nothing about allege, accused or suspected. If I am wrong, please correct me. And in any case, the courts have to decide all sorts of things on reasonable doubt, etc. so accusing them of abusing the concept of reasonable doubt or suspicion is a charge that can be levied now, even if nothing changed.

    Where I thing these videos err, is that they give you a glimpse of fact, and then expound their own interpretation of that fact, which is naturally negative. And this reminds me of virtually every thing a Baptist has ever said about the Journal of Discourses — ie. taking something factual, adding in a bunch of negative spin and analysis of it (from a worst case perspective), and then adding in a lot more truth about general things all reasonable people would seemingly agree to at the end.

    In this case, the argument weaves truth with negative, and I believe erroneous (or at least bad faith, worst case) interpretations, in order to bolster the opinion of the erroneous interpretation at the outset.

    I’m actually not opposed to Ron Paul’s position on this (do we really need another law??!?! I think not). But I have to disagree with the straight-laced approach at what I perceive is shady manipulation. I have not been armed with facts and asked to make a decision (I can respect that approach). I’ve been nicely, and ever-so-intelligently broadsided with a singled-minded perspective in order to make the case that to disagree is dreadfully wrong. I think this type of presentation is much more effective in this day and age than the old school mudslinging politics. But it’s heavily one-sided and to me that’s what makes it as intellectually repulsive. I don’t find any sense of balance in it, and it’s all too easy to manipulate in the straight up way it presents itself.

    I might even agree with it, if I were armed with more facts at the beginning. But I never got them… just got a quick glance at a bill and then the negative interpretation spun from there. If someone is going to ask me to sit through 20 minutes of persuasion, but not equip me with the text of the law in question at the very outset, before they start persuading me to oppose it, I have to question their commitment to fair discourse and wonder why I am even spending my time on it. Instead the video producers are “in it to win it” (not to inform me and let me decide) in a sophisticated way. Perhaps at minute 13 they make a better effort at being balanced… but that would be the point. By then their rhetorical tactic would have already sunk its hooks and any opposing viewpoint is already facing an uphill battle.

    In politics, I actually understand this. Even in religion to some degree. It’s not the duty of a church, political party, etc. to make the case for their antagonists. They want to get their viewpoint out and convert as many as possible. They have to make the best case they can. But I feel I was not given enough information at the outset, which causes me to distrust the rest of the presentation.

  2. Where I thing these videos err, is that they give you a glimpse of fact, and then expound their own interpretation of that fact, which is naturally negative.

    What you don’t realize is that this “negative interpretation” is the interpretation given by those who lobbied for the bill. The people on the senate floor (Lindsay Graham, for example) interpreted the bill just as the author of these videos does, and that is why he lobbied for the bill. It is good practice whenever one interprets a text to trust the author and advocates of the text as to the intended interpretation of it. In this case, we’re using their own words as to how it should be interpreted.

    But of course, you didn’t get far enough into the video to know that… so this is precisely why I’ve asked people not to comment until they have watched all of it. Chris, I may be deleting your comment. I appreciate the discussion, but I’m quite serious when I say that I’d rather not discuss this with people who aren’t on the same page, which you currently are not.

    If someone is going to ask me to sit through 20 minutes of persuasion, but not equip me with the text of the law in question at the very outset, before they start persuading me to oppose it, I have to question their commitment to fair discourse and wonder why I am even spending my time on it.

    Have you tried putting an entire bill into a YouTube video? It’s awfully difficult. The entire bill is available for public viewing. Don’t ask a commentator to do the impossible. He’s drawing connections, and the case has been sufficiently made elsewhere and by other people that the bill does exactly what the commentary says it does. And many of those “other people” are the proponents of the bill themselves.

    Pausing it…Section b of the law, as shown in the video says it specifically is to cover people who aided in the Sept.11 attacks and who are part of AQ, Taliban, or it’s partners.

    What you miss later on is that they do give you more context. In addition, it is a basic tenet of justice that people are presumed innocent of membership in AQ, Taliban, or it’s partners until guilt is demonstrated to an impartial third party. This due process of law is discarded, which definitionally means that the President now has the discretion to treat accusations as evidence of guilt.

    In the worst case, to have the presumed level of treatment that throws Habeas Corpus out the window, as the video alleges, then first a person would have to be a proven member of those groups.

    This requirement of “proof” is what the bill discards. “Proof” implies a trial in which evidence is presented to an impartial 3rd party. Again, you betray the fact that you did not actually watch the videos, nor have you actually researched this topic in depth.

    It seems to suggest to me a prognosis for dealing with people who are part of AQ, etc. not people who are merely suspected or accused

    Also, this is exactly the point. Until due process of law has been fulfilled, there can only be suspicions and accusations. Until guilt is sufficiently demonstrated to an impartial third party, in the eyes of the law, nobody is actually known to be part of AQ. They are only accused of being so.

    Imagine this conversation:

    Person A: “We’ll jail murderers without trial. Murderers don’t deserve a trial.”
    Person B: “But what if the person accused of murder is innocent? In our nation, there is a presumption of innocence until guilt is demonstrated.”
    Person A: “You misunderstand… we’re not going to jail accused murderers without a trial. If you’re just accused, you’ll have a chance to defend yourselves. We’re only going to jail actual, proven murderers without a trial.”

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had that exact conversation over the past few weeks (except, replace “murderer” with “terrorist”). It’s mind-boggling that people don’t understand the massive failure of intelligent thought in that conversation. The last sentence is a contradiction in terms. In the eyes of the law, without a fair trial, there are no proven murderers.

    Again, I may delete your comment later today (for which I preemptively apologize), and anyone else’s who haven’t actually followed the instructions in the post. I know this is unorthodox, but I want all participants in the discussion to have viewed the content of the post in its entirety before pontificating on it.

  3. You’re upset. Delete away. Censorship is king when people disagree? It reveals something unfortunate when you use a heavy hand to get people to comply in order to participate. If you or the video producer feel your argument has merit, they would present both sides and let me decide. In the middle they could put as much spin as they want to. That never happened.

    I feel my points still stand. The law says nothing about the accused. Only about the members as matter of fact. If you declare allegiance to AQ, my impression is the law says you can potentially be treated this way (and I don’t even know what “way” the treatment it is, because the video never addresses it). You have replied that it’s not practical to address the law in a Youtube video, but the producers took 20+ minutes presumably without addressing the text of the law? Or at the very least the 2 relevant paragraphs they flashed before our eyes to buy credibility that they were actually speaking the truth?

    The nature of civil discourse is not to dictate that everyone most abide by rules of someone who has their own judgements already made before everyone else has had an opportunity to come to that conclusion. In doing so, can’t you see it’s exactly the same tactic as the video uses?!? The video producers presumably read the law, but they didn’t give anyone else that same benefit when making the video. If you want to talk about “the law” and use “the video” as the basis to talk about the law, well, the law should be included in the video, correct?

  4. Chris, I’m not upset. I won’t be deleting because you disagree. I will be deleting because I wish to confine the discussion to those who’ve watched the video.

    The law says nothing about the accused. Only about the members as matter of fact.

    My above comments still stand. There are no members as matter of fact until their guilt has been demonstrated in a court of law. Take away that impartial process, and there are only, ever accusations. That’s the crucial difference, and if you can’t see that difference… well, I have no adequate response.

    This is what I’m hearing when you say that: “We’re not going to jail accused murderers without a trial. We’re only going to jail actual, proven murderers [i.e., murderers as a matter of fact] without a trial.” In short, I’m having with you the exact conversation that I described in my previous comment—a conversation that reveals a fundamental lack of understanding about justice.

    A basic tenet of justice is the presumption of innocence until guilt is demonstrated. The bill in question says that indefinite detention is permitted absent the demonstration of guilt in an impartial process. If you think that’s ok, well, that’s sad.

    You have replied that it’s not practical to address the law in a Youtube video, but the producers took 20+ minutes presumably without addressing the text of the law?

    Perhaps because the producer of the video has let the authors and proponents of the bill to speak for themselves. It’s all public. Look it up.

    Essentially what you are saying is that no one can comment on the consequences of a law without providing the full text of the law (some hundreds of pages in many cases) and laboriously pouring over every detail of it, even though others have already done so, and even though the authors and proponents of the law agree with the presented interpretation?

    If you want to talk about “the law” and use “the video” as the basis to talk about the law, well, the law should be included in the video, correct?

    The law, which is (I believe) hundreds of pages long, a matter of open, public record, and has been extensively and exhaustively poured over by analysts for the past two months in full public view? Sorry, I’m not buying it.

    Again, they do go into more textual detail… but you decided to not watch the video, because you disagree with the sequence of the rhetoric.

    Also, one thing that I didn’t bring up in my first comment, that I think is important: Romney himself has openly declared support for the bill, because it does exactly what the commentator in the video claims it does. In other words, in the speech provided in the video (which you may not have seen), he says the reason he supports the law is because it would allow him to detain those suspected of terrorism without having to demonstrate their guilt in a court of law. So, even if Romney’s, the commentator’s, and my interpretation of the bill is incorrect, the fact that he supports the bill even while he interprets it the same way the commentator does disqualifies him, in my mind, from public office. The point: if you disagree with the commentator’s interpretation of the bill, you are also disagreeing with Romney’s interpretation of the bill. And that’s the scary part.

  5. I’m with Jeff on this one. I approach any propaganda with suspicion, but there is not much wiggle room in what this presents.

    It wouldn’t necessarily make me vote for one candidate over another, as it addresses only one issue, but for propaganda, it is quite plausible. I would be interested in hearing actual rebuttal.

  6. I watched the videos, which present very convincing arguments. What I find interesting about this issue, is that Obama campaigned hard on a platform that included rejecting laws such as these. Then Obama pretty much abandoned all these campaign promises, and continued the course of GWB, effectively giving the finger to all those European liberals who presumptively handed him a Nobel Peace Prize at the beginning of his term.

    Why would Obama do such a thing? He was trained in law, and obviously understands all the legal and historical implications. Additionally, he campaigned hard on promises to repeal laws like this, so a reversal would have to be for a convincing reason. There could be two reasons I imagine:

    1. Obama’s military advisers felt that their ability to continue to succeed in the war on terror would be severely compromised without the law. Therefore, Obama had to make a decision: either take the legal and moral high ground and with it, the added terror risks, or do whatever it takes to make sure another 9/11 never happens on his watch. When you are president of the US, I would think that’s a difficult decision to make.

    2. Politically, this would have made Obama way too vulnerable during an election year. Any popularly perceived sign of weakness on the defense front could be suicidal for his chances to be reelected.

    The biggest cheer during Obama’s State of the Union speech came when Obama said that “I will take no options off the table” regarding Iran. It was the contemplation of a fourth war in the Middle East that truly brought Republicans and Democrats together with passion.

    This is the military-loving culture we live in. So Obama is forced to posture, and Romney, regardless of what he might think dispassionately, is also forced to posture on this issue. Ron Paul’s isolation from both parties on this issue illustrates just what a powerless figure he truly is.

    However, I do admire the fact that he gives a voice to these issues. I agree with him. But I can’t say that if I were president, I wouldn’t have signed the law. A president has to posture, and he has to make pragmatic decisions that balance short term gains with long term risks.

    When push comes to shove, Romney is really not that different than Obama. Their rhetoric is miles away. But in the Oval Office, their respective decisions on most matters would probably be almost identical, particularly regarding national security.

  7. Nate, I think you’ve got it figured out in that regards. I agree with you in your comparison of Romney and Obama.

    The only point at which I disagree is the idea that posturing is inevitable or commendable. I think a principled individual and a true statesman is one who doesn’t bow to the whims of popular opinion when he knows that they are wrong.

  8. Chris: The law says nothing about the accused. Only about the members as matter of fact.

    Chris, how do you propose that that fact be established? How is the government, and the public in general, supposed to determine whether someone is in fact a member or “substantial supporter” of Al-Quaeda?

    Chris: If you declare allegiance to AQ, my impression is the law says you can potentially be treated this way …

    How do we know if someone has declared allegiance to AQ? If there is conflicting evidence or accusations, how do we (the people and/or the government) gauge whether the person is a member of AQ? If the evidence is clear and beyond doubt, then why not have a trial, in order to showcase how obvious it is?

    Chris: … (and I don’t even know what “way” the treatment it is, because the video never addresses it).

    The video addresses it several times: “this way” consists of being indefinitely detained in an undisclosed location. That means they take you somewhere and they don’t tell your wife, kids, family, or friends where you are or when, if ever, you’ll come back. The clip of Rick Santorum is even more specific—he speaks of taking people to Gitmo.

  9. I’ll take issue with the “purpose of the law” argument. It doesn’t matter what the stated purpose, title, or preamble of a law states, just the provisions. Once the law is on the books, the executive branch can exercise it however they wish. If a law is unconstitutional, a person often needs to be prosecuted under the law and spend expensive years in court before an illegal law is overturned.

    Failure to define what groups a law affects often results in selective, political enforcement, subject to the biases of whomever is in power. The more intrusive and vague the law, the greater the societal instability it causes, and the higher the chance it will hurt you or someone you identify with.

    For example: right now Catholics who may have supported Obamacare are now finding out that open ended federal requirements will require Catholic hospitals to violate their religious principles and provide abortion pills. They could just as easily shut down LDS family services.

  10. My only issue with this topic is LDSP makes a major statement, then requires us to watch 20 minutes of video without framing any of it. Then he threatens to delete. That does not promote discussion, and it isn’t very democratic.

    I haven’t seen the videos, but I am aware of the law. I think it opens the door for abuse, which I do not think Romney would do. That said, some other leader could abuse it. So, I’m personally against it.

    That said, I’m not a one issue voter. And I’m very against someone dictating so narrowly on a blog that is not his/her own, in such a dictatorial way. LDSP, you may claim to be libertarian, but you sound like Obama in how you wish to impose your restrictions upon others.

    Seems to me you cannot claim to proclaim liberty, but then use such tactics you actually claim to detest.

    As it is, Ron Paul speaks against this, but is good friends with Romney and speaks highly of him. That says something to me.

  11. Rameumptom, I believe that my rationale for asking people to watch the videos before commenting were well justified by Chris’s response… he claimed the video failed to address things that it *actually does address*, and then complains that he’s asked to watch them before commenting about them.

    Dictatorial? Not at all. If one wants to confine a particular discussion on a particular topic to those who have actually done the homework to know what is being discussed, I think that’s perfectly fine. Chris’s comment illustrated that he has not read or done research on the topic, and he vociferously condemned a video that he admittedly did not watch because he claimed it didn’t do things that it actually does do, which he would have known had he watched it.

    We live in a society of sound bites. Candidates can’t do anything more than make a claim, and make it sound catchy. Actually trying to educate people is virtually a lost cause, because most people read little more than the headline or first paragraph of any given article. How many comments do you see on online articles these days where it’s clear that the author only read the first paragraph? Most add little more to the conversation than Chris’s comment did, who clearly watched little more than a minute or two of the video. Most are simply devoid of factual knowledge of what they are pontificating their opinions about.

    I’m weary of debating with people who are unwilling to actually research the topic at hand. But I’m willing to tolerate it most of the time. That’s the life of a blogger. However, on this particular subject, on this particular post I only want to respond to rebuttals that actually got past the headline and the first paragraph. I only want to respond to rebuttals from people who have the patience for more than a soundbite, and who care to look into the topic at hand. If someone wants to claim that I’m wrong about Romney, *on this post*, I want them to be able to do so having the same information that I do. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

    Also, there is absolutely nothing contradictory about publicly condemning government abuse, and setting up restrictions for commenting in a privately-operated discussion forum. Saying that I cannot do that is like saying that the Bill of Rights applies equally to privately-operated online blogs. Also, the restrictions I described are narrowly limited to *this* particular post, which *I* have posted, and I don’t believe (to the best of my knowledge) that doing so violates any of Millennial Star’s policies, which I think preserves the discretionary power of authors to moderate the comments on their own posts. I’m not attempting to tell anyone what to do on their posts or their articles. I’m not attempting to dictate to any other bloggers on this site how to moderate their comments.

    Remove me from Millennial Star, if you dislike what I do here.

    LDSP, you may claim to be libertarian, but you sound like Obama in how you wish to impose your restrictions upon others.

    I’m just trying to imagine in my mind Obama demanding that congress actually read a bill before voting on it. I’m just not picturing it. And I’m trying to draw a parallel between that and a private blog with one particular post with potentially inflammatory claims (and therefore wanting people to invest time in the content before rejecting it—particularly rejecting it in writing on the post itself). Also failing at that.

    As it is, Ron Paul speaks against this, but is good friends with Romney and speaks highly of him. That says something to me.

    This does not mean that Ron Paul agrees with Romney, would vote for him, or even think that he makes a good candidate for the presidency. It just means that he has a civil tongue, and that he can separate a person’s personal character from their flawed—and dangerous—political beliefs.

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